Swans and Dragons: Andy Melville

17th April 2018

In a regular website feature, we look back at former Swansea City players who have also turned out for Wales at full international level.

Just 13 days before his 17th birthday, Swansea-born Andy Melville made his professional debut for his home-city club in an FA Cup tie against Leyton Wingate in November 1985.

It was the first of 213 appearances the defender would make for the Swans before moving to Oxford United just under five years later.

Melville, who also operated as a midfielder during his career, scored 29 goals for the Swans.

He was a key member of the side that won promotion from the old Fourth Division play-offs in the 1987-88 season, featuring 47 times during that campaign.

The following year saw him skipper the club to their 5-0 victory over Kidderminster Harriers in the Welsh Cup final – a win that secured the Swans’ place in the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Wales boss Terry Yorath – also in charge of the Swans at the time – handed the defender his international debut in a World Cup qualifier against West Germany in November 1989, which the Dragons lost 2-1.

Melville made three further appearances for Wales as a Swans player, at home to Costa Rica and away against the Republic of Ireland and Sweden.

He also featured for the under-21s in their 2-0 win over Poland in May 1990, starting alongside the likes of Roger Freestone, Chris Coleman and Gary Speed.

Two months later, Melville was sold to Oxford for £275,000 and went on to make 135 league appearances over three seasons, scoring 13 goals.

During his time with the U’s, he became a regular feature in the Welsh backline and started in the famous victories over Germany and Brazil in Cardiff in 1991.

In November 1993, Melville started for Wales against Romania at Cardiff Arms Park, where victory for the Dragons would have secured qualification for the 1994 World Cup.

A first appearance at the finals since 1958 beckoned, but Paul Bodin’s penalty miss followed by Florin Raducioiu’s late strike condemned Wales to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat.

At this point in his career, Melville was plying his trade with Sunderland. He experienced great success with the Black Cats, where he won promotion to the Premier League in 1996 and 1999.

He made a total of 238 appearances in six years at the club, scoring 14 goals.

Melville reunited with former Swans team-mate Chris Coleman when he signed for Fulham in 1999.

He won the old First Division title for the third time in the 2000-01 season, and was one of five Welsh internationals in the Cottagers’ squad along with Coleman, Kit Symons, Paul Trollope and Alan Neilson.

Melville started in the first ever football match to be held at the Millennium Stadium (now Principality Stadium) as Wales fell to a 2-1 defeat against Finland in March 2000 and, two months later, he played in the 3-0 defeat to Brazil at the same venue in front of a then record home crowd of 72,233.

Five months after featuring in another victory over Germany in May 2002, Melville experienced arguably his greatest night in the red shirt as Wales beat Italy 2-1 in a Euro 2004 qualifier.

Four wins and a draw in eight qualifying matches saw the Welsh advance to the play-offs, in which Melville started both legs against Russia but could do nothing to prevent a disappointing 1-0 aggregate defeat for Mark Hughes’ side.

Having made 193 appearances for Fulham, Melville departed for West Ham United in 2004.

During that year, he won the last four of his 65 caps for Wales in victories over Scotland, Hungary and Latvia and, finally, a 1-1 draw with Azerbaijan.

Overall, Melville scored three goals for his country, all of which came during the qualifying campaign for the 1998 World Cup.

Melville spent time on loan with Nottingham Forest during the 2004-05 season before retiring as a player, and has since embarked on a career in coaching. He currently works at Northampton Town.